What is stack overflow? - Definition from WhatIs.com
Part of the Software management glossary:

A stack overflow is an undesirable condition in which a particular computer program tries to use more memory space than the call stack has available. In programming, the call stack is a buffer that stores requests that need to be handled.

The size of a call stack depends on various factors. It is usually defined at the start of a program. Its size can depend on the architecture of the computer on which the program runs, the language in which the program is written, and the total amount of available memory in the system. When a stack overflow occurs as a result of a program's excessive demand for memory space, that program (and sometimes the entire computer) may crash.

In Windows, a stack overflow error can be caused by certain types of malware. The risk of malware exploits can be minimized by staying current with all OS (operating system) updates and program patches, making sure you have the latest patches for all of your Web browsers, and avoiding Web sites and embedded e-mail links that increase the risk of malware attack.

This was last updated in January 2013
Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms


  • application monitoring and management (AMM)

    - Application monitoring and management is the administrative area and associated tools involved with overseeing the operation of business software and ensuring that it functions and performs as expe... (searchITOperations.com)

  • Hadoop

    - Hadoop is a free, Java-based programming framework that supports the processing of large data sets in a distributed computing environment. It is part of the Apache project sponsored by the Apache S... (searchCloudComputing.com)

  • CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment)

    - CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) is a virtual reality environment consisting of a cube-shaped room in which the walls, floors and ceilings are projection screens. The user typically wears ... (WhatIs.com)


  • Software management

    - Terms related to software management, including definitions about licensing and words and phrases about software lifecycle management and software asset management.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question. Find an Answer.Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Ask An IT Question

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Ask Question

Tech TalkComment



    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.